On this week's episode of Pet Lover Geek, Lorien chats with dog training expert Kait Hembree and Co-founder of GoodPup Lisa Martin. Listen in to hear about GoodPup's innovative solution for dog training and much more!
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00:00 Lorien Clemens
Hey pet lovers. Welcome to Pet Lover Geek powered by PetHub. I'm Lorien Clemens and today we are geeking out about training doggos. As some of you may know, January is national train your dog month, so we thought it was really fitting to bring in some of our good friends from GoodPup. GoodPup For those of you who haven't discovered them yet is a really awesome virtual dog training company and I'm super excited to share them with you. We just discovered them last year here at PetHub and we think that they're awesome. So before we get into all of that, we're going to take a really quick break. So stick around and hear all about the "paw"some solutions that we will be sharing in this week's episode.
00:48 Lorien Clemens
Welcome back. Okay, today I'm super excited to have from GoodPup, Lisa Martin and Kate Hembry. Thank you so much for joining us on Pet Lover Greek today.
00:56 Lisa Martin
Our pleasure this is great.
00:58 Lorien Clemens
Okay so before we dive in, I'd like for you to give our listeners just kind of a little short, quick history of Goodpup. Why is GoodPup different than other training tools, resources, platforms, just tell us that, and then also too, if you can, both introduce yourself so we know who you are at GoodPup.
01:16 Lisa Martin-Garlic
That's great, yeah. So let's do introductions and then I'll dive in a little bit into the history. My name is Lisa Martin-Garlic. I am the co-founder and COO here at GoodPup, and with us, we have also Kait Hembree, Kate would you like to introduce yourself?
01:30 Kait Hembree
Sure. Hi everybody, super excited to be here. I'm Kait Hembree, head of training at GoodPup. I'm sure Lisa will give you our history a bit, but I've been with them pretty much since their inception. I'm excited to be here today.
01:41 Kristen Martin-Garlic
So GoodPup was founded back in 2017 by a mix of dog training professionals and health professionals, as well as tech developers. With the goal to make quality positive reinforcement training available to everyone. We were looking at the dog ecosystem and where people needed the most support and it really came to, you know, certainly at the beginning when you're bringing your dog home and we looked at the options that were available to them, and the biggest reason people didn't pursue training was really cost and convenience, and we realized because we have our tech gurus with us that technology can help connect the demand for dog training with the supply of quality positive reinforcement dog trainers in the market, and so that's what we did with our GoodPup training platform. It is an app. It is also a website where you can sign up and create an account and then you are matched with a GoodPup dog trainer to do your sessions. We also provide content and chat support which is huge; so constant communication with your trainer throughout the length of the program. So it is like one on one dog training but we are able to provide it at a real fraction of the price, sometimes one on one dog training is cost-prohibitive but we are able to provide it at a very reasonable price so that everyone can access it.
02:50 Lorien Clemens
02:52 Lisa Martin-Garlic
You can do it in your pajamas because it's in video. You don't have to pack up the kiddos and the dogs and go someplace, so it's super convenient. Very cost effective and since 2017 we have trained over 50,000 dogs, so seeing a lot of growth.
03:05 Lorien Clemens
Well and I'm sure that Covid and everybody having to stay home, and even if we weren't in, you know, lock down times, it's still a lot of us are still, "I don't really want to go out in public right now" and you have to wear the mask and all those kind of things, so I think that's why it came to our attention when we were looking for what our resources for, you know, specifically puppies, new pet parents, like I gotta get training for this dog but everything is closed because of Covid and that's when we discovered you it was really exciting. I wanna go back though because you mentioned something that I want to make sure that we can define for our users. For the folks, especially for new pet parents that are listening to this. You mentioned positive reinforcement training. Can you talk a little bit about, you know, what does that mean and what else is there? Like why wouldn't I be positively reinforcing my dog? So talk about that a little bit so people understand what we're talking about.
03:55 Lisa Martin-Garlic
Yeah Kate do you want to take that one? As you are the head of training and this is your specialty.
04:01 Kait Hembree
Sure, happy to. I mean there's a variety of training styles, let's say, on the market. Positive reinforcement training you may hear people refer to it as reward-based training, force-free training, choice-training, but the idea behind it is that we use things our dogs like, some kind of reward, generally food as the consequence that follows a behavior we like and when we use the theories of learning theory -- that actually means -- 'cause you told me to geek out so I'm gonna out.
04:32 Lorien Clemens
04:33 Kait Hembree
That actually means we're adding something to the situation that is going to increase the likelihood that the behavior happens again, right? So we're adding a reward our dog likes. That reward could be toys. It could be treats. It can actually just be a life reward like getting to go for a walk, but the goal is to use it in a way to promote those behaviors we want from our dogs and increase the likelihood they're gonna happen again, and part of the reason we use positive reinforcement training is because it he`lps make that positive association with what's happening around the dog, right? So if we're using things our dogs enjoy, then they learn to enjoy training and they have a positive association with us. Associate just means they're conditioned. Everything around them becomes part of that positive experience, right? The situation, and what better way than to build a bond with your dog than one that's based on that positive association.
05:30 Lorien Clemens
Yeah and I think it's important to note too like what may be the polar opposite -- there are training methods that are out there that are more about dominance and you know discipline-based training. If you could talk a little bit about that and maybe why you might want to shy away from that if you are a pet parent?
05:48 Kait Hembree
Well, so dominance training and you know we could do an entire...
05:53 Lorien Clemens
Yes, it could be an entire episode about this.
05:56 Kait Hembree
It is based on some of the initial research that we had 30 something years ago for dogs, which was as many people know, off of wolves, but the emphasis behind that style of training is the use of aversive training methods, so essentially adding punishment. Something our dogs don't like as the consequence to a behavior we don't want. So again, when we look at this from a learning theory perspective, punishment-based training does play a role in learning theory, for all of us, dogs, kids alike. We add something that the dog doesn't like and it decreases the likelihood we're going to keep seeing that behavior, but what we have found, 30 years now of evolvement since that, is that punishment, although it has its place in learning theory, the unpleasantness surrounding those aversive techniques, just like our positive, our fun, our reward become then associated with training. So now we have a dog having a negative connection to the training, to doing what we want them to do, to the person, to maybe even things around them, and there's all kinds of other potential problems you're going to run into when you use those training techniques. Again, don't want to spend time getting into those today, but we don't set ourselves up for the success that we want in the relationship we want with our dogs when we use dominance theory-based or punishment-based, cohesion-based training techniques. Dogs are our family members now, they're with us all the time, right? We want to promote that bond and have that trust, and we're gonna do that best when we have those rewards, we give our dogs choices to do things they want that's going to end up with something good for them.
07:45 Lorien Clemens
Yeah, I mean, if you think about when you were a kid or even an adult, you don't like being around people that are constantly snarking at you and saying no, stop that. Do this instead and bossing you around kind of a thing.
07:56 Kait Hembree
07:57 Lorien Clemens
You want to have those relationships and be most present with those relationships where you're feeling like this person likes me and they like what I'm doing and every time I do that it gets even better. So it makes perfect sense to me, I'm a former teacher as well of children in Montessori so it very much aligns with the way I was teaching children, and so just kind of natural.
08:18 Kait Hembree
Yeah, learning theory is the same whether you're teaching a dolphin, a child, or a dog, right?
08:21 Lorien Clemens
08:22 Kait Hembree
And so that's what we're focusing on, a specific quadrant of learning theory is what we want to use with our dogs.
08:27 Lorien Clemens
Yeah, it's really just like, you know, a dolphin you bring fish, a kid you bring, you know, Cheetos or something you know funny, and a dog....
08:34 Kait Hembree
08:36 Lorien Clemens
Yeah, whatever, yeah. Or the case of my son anything that has to do with a motor vehicle, you give him that he's happy forever. I have 2 1/2-year-old, and a puppy so we've been doing a lot of training for a lot of people in our house lately. You beautifully laid out those differences in the training styles, but let's talk about the differences in the actual training using say a virtual platform like GoodPup or in-person training. So what are those differences? You know, what are the pros and cons I guess is what I would love for you guys to help layout so that people can understand like why virtual training could be a really great thing for them? Or when they might need to consider, no I need to figure out in-person training so you can talk a little bit about that.
09:15 Kait Hembree
Yeah for sure. Lisa, do you want to take this?
09:17 Lisa Martin-Garlic
Yeah, I'll start. There are plenty of things we can talk about with this. You mentioned Covid as being a growth time for us and it certainly was, but I think what a lot of people learned during Covid is that a lot of things that traditionally were done in person, and we could not fathom doing them remotely, are actually quite doable remotely, and dog training is one of those things because so much of it is about training the owners about how to communicate etc, right? The trainers that we have formed these really great relationships with the owners and guide them through how to do these things. It's very much like a one on one dog training relationship and then with the video platform, we can also see and everything. One of the things that we heard is a concern is that people like to do these puppy training classes because of socialization and because they want to be able to do the training and the socialization together, but those are actually very separate things. Socialization is about exposing puppies to novelties, including people, and places, and other animals, and things like that just to help them to be comfortable with life and training is about learning, so when you often combine those, they don't always do the same benefit, right? We want training to be done in a quiet distraction-free environment, and so they're able to do that in their home. Really learn the core concepts and the queues and build that bond that Kait was talking about, and then our trainers all coach them on how to do socialization. You don't have to pay for socialization. You have to go out and take them and experience different things. I think one of the, you know, one of the weaknesses we continue to hear as well, I like to socialize with my dogs. I wanna do training in a class but they realize that learning is sometimes harder in that environment and you can do it better kind of at home. I will say though that there are some dogs that come in with behavior issues that may require more hands-on for training. Right? Kate can talk about this as well, but while we were building out this platform we build the behavior review process where when we see dogs like that, we will refer them out to, again, qualified positive reinforcement dog trainers or veterinarian behaviorists or additional support or medication, but we can also provide guidance in terms of maintenance and safety, right? Things that we can still provide a lot of benefit via the virtual platform, but we will often refer. It's less than 1% of the dogs that we see, but we do have a process in place to help them to see someone in person as well.
11:33 Lorien Clemens
Yeah, and that makes -- before Kate goes on. If you mind, can I just interject a couple things here? Because a lot of what you said I was like, Oh yeah, I remember my first Boston Terrier. I'm on my second one now, but years ago when I got my first Boston Terrier, that puppy training class was a disaster for us and I had to, after two weeks, take her out of that and then work one on one with somebody to help train her. This is obviously in the dark ages before the Internet was really big and happening a lot, but because there was a dog who was just a little bit older than her puppy wise, but was was obsessed with her and it became all about keeping them separate and dealing with that behavior issue, and then she became so that she was then terrified of that type of dog for the rest of her life, which was, I look back now and am like argh. Had I only known that that was a possibility I would have never started with a puppy training class, and as you say, it becomes about things other than learning, and so she and I had to step back and relearn that kind of thing. So that I think is critically important to understand that when you're talking about these in-person classes, the socialization could actually overwhelm the training that's happening, I think and the other thing that I would love it if you can talk about too, is that the whole be able to be distraction free because one of the things that I remember somebody telling me, "no you need to have a puppy class 'cause then they learn how to focus on you even around distractions." But if I think back to teaching children, they don't get to that skill level of being able to even learn how to get rid of distractions until they've learned the basic skill.
13:10 Kait Hembree
13:11 Lorien Clemens
So if you're trying to teach that basic skill among all the other craziness, they're not really fully embodying that skill.
13:18 Kait Hembree
Yeah, and that's actually one of the biggest things I see as a challenge with clients, and have for years, is really just moving forward too fast. They don't give their dog, or their children, or themselves the opportunity to learn the skill and then practice the skills starting with easy stuff and then slowly making it more challenging and working to generalize it to other areas. I think for many of us in this instant gratification world we live in. Okay, they know what leave it is in the home, let's go use it outside on the leash, and that reality is that doesn't work. Lisa's comments too with socialization being something separate from training, which it really is and socialization is also a specific period of time with dogs. It's considered a time frame of three to 14 weeks, not a 2-year-old dog. 3 to 14 weeks, now we certainly want to continue to expose our dogs to novelties as they age and that may be a more appropriate setting for training, but being able to do training in the home without the distractions and to learn the skills has been terrific, and one thing I have found with some of our more extensive behavioral concerned cases is that we're able, not only to provide the safety in the management, but to help teach that skill in a stress-free environment, and then they're already set up with a skill if we do work in conjunction with another professional like a veterinary behaviorist or a trainer on the ground to then work on how to expose that dog slowly, and that's really, that's huge.
14:58 Lorien Clemens
Yeah, and so let's kind of build on what you're saying. Let's geek out a little bit on this whole thing of -- because you mentioned the time frame right -- and a lot of us are like, oh, new puppy need to train this kind of embedded in us, you know, like, okay, great. That's one of my jobs to do as a new pet parent with my puppy, but many of us, particularly in the pandemic, brought in pups that were older and maybe we're already coming with some baggage, frankly, of behavior issue. So can you talk a little bit about, in particular, in how good pup does the onboarding for these new dogs. About what's that's like? I mean it's never too late to start training, so can you talk a little bit about that onboarding process and how the assessment works and how can you get started wherever you are and meet the dog wherever they are?
15:45 Kait Hembree
Yeah, so Lisa do you wanna talk about the assessment and then I'll follow up with what we do.
15:49 Lisa Martin-Garlic
Yeah, I'll just talk through a little bit of like what they can expect and another that the things that I like about the one-on-one training, whether it's in person or virtual, is that you can focus on the things you need, right? Whereas when you go to another group class you go through their curriculum with the other dogs, but with GoodPup you fill out the assessment and you answer questions about what your dog already knows. You know, 90% of puppies coming in, first thing we talked about is potty and crate, but if you're coming in with an older dog and we get the age information, how long you've owned it, and you say they already know potty and crate, but we're really focused on, you know, a jumping behavior or barking behavior. Then your trainer is going to get that assessment prior to meeting with you and be able to tailor that conversation to focus on that specific issue. I think that's enough about the assessment. I mean it's a pretty -- it walks you through it in the app and everything -- but what I'll say, and I'm sure Kate will back me up on this too, is that oftentimes people come in with a specific issue, but the way to solve it is to take a few steps back and say what do you know? What can you communicate with your dog? What cues have you learned? And then build from there? So we meet them where they are, but oftentimes that also requires us to say, okay, let's take a step back and rebuild that relationship or that connection. Kait, I don't know if there's more to add to that.
17:04 Kait Hembree
Yeah, no, and that falls into what we were talking about earlier right? -- that we need a skill first before we start to learn how to apply that skill in some of these stressful situations. Our dogs come in through our assessment. Our trainers look at that assessment. We actually have with our trainers themselves, we have different, you know, levels of expertise as well, so our older dogs are matched to our trainers who've been doing this a while on the phones, and then that first session is really getting that history just like they would if they were meeting with a one on one professional and establishing maybe just some simple management in place so everybody is safe and or to prevent that behavior from continuing to happen as much as possible; while we work on building this skill and then learning the application of the skill. So the trainer will get that history and work with those basics at the beginning. Then they may choose to flag that call for our behavior team which will actually review the call. All of our calls are recorded and then we will build an extensive plan customized to that dog, which will have a variety of skills in it. It may have the basics that we teach with our GoodPup 101 in conjunction with some more advanced skills that are more focused on addressing the concerns that that dog may have, and then we send that back to the trainer and they work to implement that.
18:25 Lorien Clemens
So what does this look like? I mean I'm sitting here going -- I mean now -- I've tried out your platform, so I know, but I want our listeners to understand, what does this look like? So I come and I fill out this assessment and then I meet with you. What's that first visit? You call it a call, but it's a video call.
18:43 Kait Hembree
It is. Yeah, so similar to our zoom call right now I'm sitting on the phone talking live with a person in real-time, on their phone, so they can be at home, they could be at work, they could be in the car if they're just having a meltdown and needs some support with this new dog, right? But they can really reach us anywhere and that's also one of the benefits of the platform as well is the access they have, not to just their trainer, but to our chat as well. That's available. They can chat in when they're having concerns, even if their trainers not available, they'll get a response. But yes, back to the question, they're looking on their phone just like FaceTime. Talking to that person live, and then a lot of it may be a conversation to start, depending again, on the assessment and what they're coming in, and or the trainer may dive in with some skills, and they may be coaching them on, "okay, I want you to set your phone now so I can see you working with the dog in a quiet room." And so now the trainers actually visually watching them and coaching, "okay I would like you to hold your hand here. I want you to place the treat there. I want you to move slow. I want you to move fast. Take a step back." All of the same things they're gonna get in real-time with a person in a private lesson.
19:55 Lorien Clemens
Yeah and what's the difference? Because I know, I have a friend in particular, who's like I just watch the videos on YouTube about training and that's really all I really needed to know and my dogs are great. If she hears me calling her out I'm sorry. But can you talk through like what's the difference between me watching a video on YouTube and then doing what that trainer on the YouTube video did, and you coaching me through it? I mean, I think I know inherently, but again like, to help people that are waffling on whether or not this is the right type of thing for them.
20:29 Kait Hembree
Well, I'm sure some of it comes down to the individual, and I'm sure Lisa is going to back me on some of this too, but how do you know you're doing it right? How do you know? Who's there to 100% know. I mean obviously someone with a very experienced background, they may do just fine with that, but having a live coach to tell you, "oh, try it like this." Or what happens if it doesn't work according to youtube.
20:50 Lorien Clemens
20:52 Kait Hembree
Who's gonna tell you, "oh this is a different way or let's try an alternate."
20:55 Lorien Clemens
Or it's not working because you're actually doing this. That you don't know that you're doing.
20:59 Kait Hembree
Right, and I will say the other thing, and I'm sure Lisa will bring this up, is the accountability. Someone sitting there -- you see her smiling. I knew she would do this -- Holding you accountable for what you're doing, how you're doing it, for practicing the skill, for how you're applying the skill, right? And to me that's really what most people need, is that follow up.
21:21 Lorien Clemens
21:22 Lisa Martin-Garlic
Yeah let me just -- 'cause that's like my hot button issue when it comes to dog training because I fell into this as a dog owner -- Is that, and I'll say my famous line, I don't know if I made it up, but I say it all the time which is dog training is not a class. Dog training is a lifestyle that you adopt when you bring your dog home. And I fell into this the wrong way when I took my Boxer. I probably had a very similar experience than you with your Boston with the distractions, but also she would do it in the class and then I come home and I'd be like, "ah well she did it, it's fine." and it just wouldn't be built into my day and then I go back and I'd be like oh she kind of does it and you know you can get somewhere with that, but it's just to me it's like you the accountability of having someone watching you with your specific dog who has, you know, his or her own issues or quirks or you know, but then also the commitment to follow through after that and that's why again I love our platform because we have built in homework, we have built-in content, You at any given time can go on your phone and practice with your dog or, you know, if you have a question, you can chat with your trainer or a trainer like there's just this like again, building into your life versus just alright time to train for an hour and Lila's gonna be a great dog. I think that's a really important thing that I'm proud of with our app is that we are building it. I mean how much time do people spend on their phone these days? It's insane, right?
22:43 Lorien Clemens
Yeah, it's about a commitment. Having a dog is a commitment and training is a key part of that commitment. I mean, my husband I were actually just joking around just last night how we clearly fallen off -- in the last few weeks because whatever, toddler insert whatever is going on in our life -- on the feeding ritual that happens because she had it down. She's been doing it perfectly for the whole year she's been with us and it's like in the last few weeks for whatever reason we haven't been making her do it, and then last night she was all like jumping up we were like, "What is this?" This is not how we do feeding and so we have realized, okay, we have to go back and like reinforce it.
23:19 Kait Hembree
Well and that brings up another good point, and you would know as a teacher, right? Dogs aren't socially mature -- here's me geeking out again -- until they're two to three years of age -- depending on the breed and the environment they're in -- two to three years social maturity. So if we really want these behaviors ingrained in a part of who they are, we have to follow through on that commitment until they're two to three years of age. We can't just stop.
23:42 Lorien Clemens
Right, yeah 'cause she just turned a year old, and so you know, there were things that we had nailed and I'm listening and I'm like, oh yeah jumping up, we've got that problem again. We didn't have it for a little while 'cause we had solved it. Leave it, right? She's not doing that very well anymore and again I'm like, okay, this is something that I need to, clearly I need to go and use GoodPup app more often. So let's talk about that because we're gearing toward the end here so let's wrap up here, but training can be hard to keep on top of it. We've got so many things going on in our life. What is it about GoodPup and the way you set up your program that helps people stay on top of it and keep that throughline continuity going so that they can get to that, you know, part of who they are?
24:24 Kait Hembree
We were looking at questions in preparation of this and there was a similar one, and I looked at it in the first thing that came to my mind as a trainer, not even in the app, as a trainer, success comes with consistency, and our app helps people be consistent. It's giving them that opportunity right there on their phone anytime to practice, to revisit guidelines, to go back if a skill regresses, and that's invaluable.
24:54 Lorien Clemens
24:55 Lisa Martin-Garlic
The other thing I think was something that people don't realize too because of the way they've done training in the past at these like hour-long session once a week. That's how training is done, right? And I don't have an hour and you know, that is the training is just. It can be very short, right? Our training sessions are half an hour. We cover a ton of stuff and then our homework is 3 times a day, 5 minutes each time. This is not a, okay let's set aside an hour, go in a room and train, you know, it's how do you build sit into everything, right? How do you sit before you eat dinner? How do you sit -- like there's all these little tricks that help you build it into just part of your day, and it's not again the separate thing that like, okay, I gotta train now, let me get my treats and my thing and go and do this and so I think it's something that is a misconception that we help to break with our app and the way we've built our platform.
25:43 Lorien Clemens
Yeah, I love it. So let's wrap things up. Talk about first how folks can find you. I think it's pretty clear, but let's talk about how they can find you, and then what they can expect in terms of cost because you talked about time and what that commitment of time is going to be, but let's talk about cost because you mentioned earlier that it's comparable, if not more cost-effective than in-person training opportunities can be. So let's talk about what that would be.
26:04 Lisa Martin-Garlic
Absolutely, you can find us in the App Store on Android or iOS, just type in GoodPup Dog Training or GoodPup, it will come right up. You can also go to goodpup.com because you can access us through the desktop. Create the profile on there and do it on your computer so there's plenty of ways to access our platform, and yes, so the first week is free because we want to give you a chance to try it out. Make sure you like it. That everything works, which we're very confident it will, but then every week you get a 30-minute session with your trainer and access to the content and homework. Plus unlimited access to chat for $29.00 week.
26:41 Lorien Clemens
Awesome, and by the way, I just have to throw in here if you are a PetHub member, a PetHub premium member, you get an even better discount opportunity for becoming a GoodPup member as well so make sure if you're listening now and you're kind of on the fence about joining PetHub, you get even better benefits if you join GoodPup. So thank you so much, both of you, for coming on today. I know that we'll be talking more in the future because you have a wealth of knowledge I am sure that you can share about all sorts of training things, but this is really about introducing everybody to what you do and how exciting what you do is because like I said, when we discovered you last year in the middle of the pandemic, like wow, this is perfect for what we need to do. So really excited. So everybody that was listening just now remember you can go to either the Android store or the Apple App Store to find the GoodPup app or go to GoodPup, GOODPUP.COM. You can also find them on social media platforms if you want to follow them and what they're doing there. Lots of fun, great educational information there as well. As always, thank you so much for taking the time to tune in today, and thank you so much for being here both of you and have a great rest of the week, and everyone who's listening right now, remember that this is Pet Lover Geek, powered by PetHub. Thank you so much.